China's apparent oil demand in June rose by 11.7% to an average 9.99 million barrels per day (b/d) or 40.89 million metric tons (mt), a just-released Platts analysis of Chinese government data showed.
Apparent oil demand in June was the highest since February 2011. This was a rebound from relatively more sluggish growth in the first half of 2013 and demonstrates significant growth in relation to the comparatively low level in June last year.
In May this year apparent oil demand edged up just 1.9% year over year to an average 9.53 million b/d while in April, apparent demand rose 2.1% to an average 9.66 million b/d.
Refinery runs, or capacity utilization, surged 10.8% in June versus a year earlier to 9.68 million b/d. Refinery throughput was also 4.8% higher than in the previous month, according to data released July 15 by China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
China's General Administration of Customs data released July 20 showed net oil products imports on a year-over-year basis jumped 50% in June to 1.29 million mt. This was largely due to a 11.9% surge in oil product imports to 3.28 million mt, while oil product exports fell 3.9% to 1.99 million mt.
Jet/kerosene imports rose 45.7% year over year to 510,000 mt while naphtha inflows more than doubled to 346,000 mt compared with June 2012. China did not import any gasoil in June and it typically does not import gasoline. Fuel oil imports in June dipped 2.9% year over year to 2.02 million mt.
For the first half of 2013, China's apparent oil demand has grown by 3.9% compared with the same period of 2012 to an average 9.87 million b/d. This was more robust than the 0.7% expansion seen over the same period last year.
"The oil data in June was surprisingly robust and was quite a contrast to the seemingly bearish macroeconomic data, such as its sluggish second quarter GDP growth and weakened industrial production," said Song Yen Ling, Platts senior writer for China.
"It is difficult to say if this level of growth will be sustained, but China's oil demand historically picks up at the end of the third quarter and the fourth quarter, so it's possible that there might be an uptick in growth later in the year."
*Platts calculates China's apparent or implied oil demand on the basis of crude throughput volumes at the domestic refineries and net oil product imports, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics and Chinese customs. Platts also takes into account undeclared revisions in NBS historical data.